Attorney-at-law Johanan Lafeuillee from the law firm Caricom Attorneys-at-law, is questioning the process through which the Mt Cinnamon property in Morne Rouge, Grand Anse, St. George was sold, while there were unfinished matters before the court with her clients Franklyn and Danielle Comissiong.
In a virtual media conference on Tuesday, Lafeuillee said the Comissiongs leased a one-bedroom hacienda in Mt Cinnamon in 2007 to invest in Grenada for their retirement.
The hacienda would be put in the Mt Cinnamon rental pool when they were off island, and they would have use of the property when on island.
In 2013, after five years of paying hefty maintenance costs and getting no returns on the rental, the couple sought legal intervention to rescind the lease and recover their investment of over US$500,000.
While the couple was awaiting a trial date, they learned that the property was for sale and they became concerned as they did not know what parts of the property would be sold and how it would affect their investment.
An application was filed in the High Court for interim relief, and they asked for at least the proceeds from rental of the hacienda from 2013 to be paid into the court, and that hearing was held in December 2019 but judgement was reserved.
Lafeuillee said the Court was informed of their concern that the property would be sold before any payment was made into the court, but assurances were given by the lawyers for the sellers, that the sale would not have been completed before the end of 2020.
To date, no payments have been made to the court, she said.
The parties were scheduled to return to court June 17 but on May 10, the Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Mitchell announced “the recent acquisition of Port Louis and Mt Cinnamon” at a cost of US$350m with the broad plan to add 500 rooms to Grenada’s hotel stock.
Subsequent media reports revealed that the purchase was done by Joyau des Caraibes Ltd (JDC), a company affiliated with Egyptian billionaire Naguib Onsi Sawiris, financier of the recently completed Silversands resort in Grand Anse.
Within the same week of the Prime Minister’s announcement, the de Savary group issued news releases that the properties had been sold to JDC II Ltd.
This added further concerns for her clients, Ms Lafeuillee said, as she could find no record of the company JDC II Ltd being registered in Grenada or anywhere else at the time of the sale.
She also told the news conference that the sale was announced just days before the June court date, it was rushed through while the island was under lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it happened before receiving the decision of the court, and the sale also went through without any notice to the court or her clients.
This, she says, represents a “crass disregard for due process”.
Lafeuillee said while the deed actually said the purchasing company was registered in Grenada with its office in Lance Aux Epines, when she searched there was no such record that the company had been registered prior to the sale.
For years her clients had been paying exorbitant maintenance costs on the beachfront property that has now been sold, she said, the same property that had been promised for a five-star hotel which they would have enjoyed as property owners.
Since the adjournment from the June 17 date, the Comissiongs have not been given a new date for the court hearing.
Lafeuillee said they are quite anxious to have the matter settled, as the couple’s hard earned investment is on the line and they are now in their retirement years.